How do you demonstrate your commitment to solving world hunger? Do you attempt to eat enough in one sitting to feed a third world family for a couple days? If you’re a leader of a G8 country attending that summit on the Japanese Island of Hokkaido, the answer is, “maybe yes.”
As they put on their serious faces and sat to discuss the growing global food crisis, the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized democracies (that’s Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), were served a total of 24 courses — six for lunch and 18 for dinner — that included such staples of the working poor as, “milk-fed lamb flavored with herbs and mustard and roast lamb with crepes and black truffle.” Good, solid, peasant food to put them in touch with the pressing issues of the day.
Or not. Here, have a look at the menu:
The feast, according to the UK’s Daily Mail, drew its share of ire from critics:
Dominic Nutt, of the charity Save the Children, did not approve.
’It is deeply hypocritical that they should be lavishing course after course on world leaders when there is a food crisis and millions cannot afford a decent meal,’ he said.
’If the G8 wants to betray the hopes of a generation of children, it is going the right way about it. The food crisis is an emergency and the G8 must treat it as that.’
In 2005, at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, world leaders promised to increase global aid by £25billion a year by 2010 and raise aid to Africa, the world’s poorest continent, by £12.5billion. But the bloc of rich nations is only 14 per cent of the way towards hitting its target.
Would the money spent on the banquet have stemmed the starvation of 105 million people? Probably not. The exact cost of the dinner and lunch wasn’t reported, but the hotel at which Michelin Star Chef Katsuhiro Nakamura cooked and served the meals charges 7,000 pounds (about $10,500) a night for a suite. That’s a lot of grain and cooking oil. Hell, the UN could drop linen tablecloths for that kind of scratch.
Of course it’s unrealistic to expect world leaders at a high-powered international conference to snack on grilled cheese and baked potatoes, but the already maligned rich-guys’ club isn’t going to win friends by rubbing the world’s face in its sumptuous meal. We’re going to see no small amount of schadenfreude when and if the United States has to accept foreign aid from someplace like Venezuela. Oh wait…
G8 Summit [Official Site]
Summit that’s hard to swallow - world leaders enjoy 18-course banquet as they discuss how to solve global food crisis [Daily Mail]
CITGO’s Low Cost Heating Oil Program [CITGO]